Simulating the cortical 3D visuomotor transformation of reach depth

  • Blohm G
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We effortlessly perform reach movements to objects in different directions and depths. However, how networks of cortical neurons compute reach depth from binocular visual inputs remains largely unknown. To bridge the gap between behavior and neurophysiology, we trained a feed-forward artificial neural network to uncover potential mechanisms that might underlie the 3D transformation of reach depth. Our physiologically-inspired 4-layer network receives distributed 3D visual inputs (1(st) layer) along with eye, head and vergence signals. The desired motor plan was coded in a population (3(rd) layer) that we read out (4(th) layer) using an optimal linear estimator. After training, our network was able to reproduce all known single-unit recording evidence on depth coding in the parietal cortex. Network analyses predict the presence of eye/head and vergence changes of depth tuning, pointing towards a gain-modulation mechanism of depth transformation. In addition, reach depth was computed directly from eye-centered (relative) visual distances, without explicit absolute depth coding. We suggest that these effects should be observable in parietal and pre-motor areas.

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  • Gunnar Blohm

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